Exiting the European Union: Meaningful Vote

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:38 pm on 11th December 2018.

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Photo of Gregory Campbell Gregory Campbell Shadow DUP Spokesperson (International Development), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Cabinet Office) 3:38 pm, 11th December 2018

The hon. Lady should not pay too much attention to opinion polls. The one she should pay attention to is the one that took place two years ago. I would be happy to face any vote in Northern Ireland about where our future lies.

It does not matter whether a backstop comes under WTO rules, under the guidance of the EU or under the insistence of the United Kingdom Government, because no infrastructure established at the border can work. A backstop is totally and utterly unnecessary, because it cannot work. There are 290 crossing points on under 300 miles of land border in Northern Ireland, so no structure of any kind, anywhere, can work. That is why we do not need a backstop. People would treat the infrastructure with disdain and contempt, because they could avoid it so easily. If we had six, 16 or 26 manned roads across the border—forgetting about the possibility of threats to the people who would man those roads—all of those who lived there, worked there and traded there would know 100 ways to get round the infrastructure without having to go through any customs checkpoints, so there is no point to any backstop. We have been led into a trap. A backstop created by the EU that is null and void and that cannot exist will not prevent any border from coming about.

The only border that exists is a land border between the United Kingdom and the Irish Republic, which will endure long after we have left the EU, long after WTO rules come in—if they ever come in—and long after the United Kingdom has eventually worked out the way for our country to be an extraneous independent nation state that trades and has good, friendly relationships with those inside and outside the EU. That is our future. We need a better deal, and the Prime Minister needs to bring that back from Brussels if she can do a magic trick that I believe is beyond her.